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Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms

A stroke is a medical condition that can lead to nerve damage, complications, and in some cases, even death. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the third one in western countries.

Strokes happen when the blood flow to the brain is cut off or weakens, and result in a functional disorder. When a person experiences a stroke and a certain area in the brain is damaged, the function that is controlled by this area will be affected.

Prompt medical treatment can minimize brain damage and possible complications. Strokes can be treated and even prevented.

What Are the Risk Factors for Stroke?

It is commonly believed that a stroke is an unexpected event and can’t be prevented. Although a stroke is indeed a surprising event and can’t be predicted in advance, there are several risk factors that may increase the chances of experiencing a stroke. It is extremely important to be aware of these factors in order to reduce the risk of a stroke.

  • Unbalanced hypertension

  • Diabetes

  • Excess fats and cholesterol in the blood

  • Family history of heart diseases

  • Smoking

  • Heart arrhythmia

  • Overweight and physical inactivity

  • High cholesterol

Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms and signs appear suddenly and can easily be recognized. If you or someone around you is experiencing any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. Remember that time is a crucial factor in the treatment possibilities.

  • Speaking difficulties: Confusion and word slurring

  • Numbness: Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, legs or arms, or in one side of the body. In addition, one side of the mouth may droop while trying to smile.  

  • Vision difficulties: Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes. Can be indicated by blurriness, blackened or double vision.

  • Walking problems: Dizziness and faintness, loss of balance or coordination.

  • Headache: A sudden, striking headache, with or without vomiting.

Other symptoms such as a drop of the eyelid, tingling, loss of sensation, swallowing difficulties can follow.

When Should You Seek Emergency Care?

Suspected stroke is usually associated with the most known symptom, paralysis or half-body numbness. However, to determine if a person is experiencing a stroke, often CT, MRI, and other tests are required.

The sooner the treatment is given the better, and it is best to receive medical treatment up to three hours since the symptoms have begun. Therefore, if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, even if they are not consistent or disappear immediately, ask the person to smile and raise both hands. If one side of their face or one arm drops or their speech is unclear, visit Premier or call 911 immediately.

The doctor will gather all the relevant information, give a diagnosis and then begin with treatment subject to the cause of the stroke.